Carbon Trust: Floating Wind Is UK’s Golden Ticket

A new report published by the Carbon Trust has highlighted the key areas for policy makers to consider in order to develop a world leading market for floating wind in the UK.

Recommendations for policy and regulatory measures include a viable support mechanism to secure the UK’s position as a world leader in floating wind, as well as clearly defined timelines for decision making through the consenting process to aid developer planning and increase investor confidence.

The report also points to a necessary increase in dialogue between stakeholders directly involved in and influencing the consenting process.

Also, for the UK to be a leader in floating wind, there needs to be a support for research and development activity to accelerate innovation and reduce costs, and support for infrastructure and other capital equipment to ensure a competitive supply chain is created to service the transportation, fabrication and installation of floating wind.

The analysis was carried out by the Carbon Trust in collaboration with the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and covers four policy areas: licensing and consenting; subsidy and grant support; supply chain development; and grid connection.

The report is the first official output of the Floating Wind Joint Industry Project (JIP), a collaborative initiative designed to bring together public and private organisations interested in investigating the challenges and opportunities of developing floating wind technology. The Floating Wind JIP was set up by the Carbon Trust in collaboration with five offshore wind project developers including DONG Energy, EDF, E.ON, innogy, and Statoil, with support from the Scottish government.

The study provides recommendations on how to create the best policy and regulatory environment to attract inward investment into the UK floating wind industry, and build supply chain capability to exploit opportunities in potential international markets. The report concludes that ongoing support will be crucial to create a world leading floating wind market in in the UK.

With Statoil’s Hywind Scotland due to commence generation later this year and a further two floating wind projects undergoing planning consent in Scotland, collectively these could provide up to 90MW of installed floating wind capacity and help to propel the UK into a world leading position. However, with current subsidy support for floating wind scheduled to end in October 2018, the report outlines several policy options which could be explored to safeguard continued support for future floating wind technology development and build on the progress to date.

“I believe we can and should be rightly proud that Scotland is at the forefront of the global race to develop the next generation of offshore wind technologies to unlock the potentially vast renewable energy in our deeper waters,” Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said.

“The significant investment by Masdar in Hywind Scotland, which will be the first floating wind farm in the UK, offers great potential not only to generate clean, green energy, but to demonstrate the technical capabilities of the floating wind technology, and highlights the importance of continued investment in offshore wind, while we undertake the underpinning developmental work to ensure environmental and economic benefits are delivered.”

Floating wind is a nascent technology and as such requires elements of tailored policy to encourage future technology innovation and supply chain development to support the commercialisation journey, the Carbon Trust said.

Details of the projects to be undertaken as part of the next phase of the Floating Wind JIP have recently been announced and include assessments of electrical systems, mooring systems, and logistical challenges in large arrays of floating wind turbines. Current participants include DONG Energy, E.ON, Eolfi, innogy, and Statoil, with support from the Scottish Government.

Jan Matthiesen, Director of Offshore Wind at the Carbon Trust, said: “Floating wind presents a huge opportunity to unlock new markets for offshore wind by enabling areas with deeper waters and high wind resource to be accessed in a cost effective way. However, there are a number of novel challenges that will need to be addressed in order to deploy floating wind turbines at commercial scale. The UK has led the world in fixed-bottom offshore wind and is now on the verge of securing a world leading position in floating wind, but continued support is critical to make this a reality.”

The full report can be accessed here.